How to Effectively Use Personalization in Retail Email Marketing

Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon
Guest Contributor

Email marketing achieves much better results with personalized messages, and investing a little time strategizing on the different ways to gather relevant data about your customers can pay big dividends.

Email marketing is an affordable and direct way to reach your target audience, but it is not always as effective for marketers as it could be. An Aberdeen Group report released in 2015 indicated that email messages that were personalized to the recipient had a 10 percent higher conversion rate and 14 percent higher click-through rate than emails that were not personalized.

Personalized emails indicate to the consumer that the content is focused specifically on their needs or desires. For example, some personalized messages may indicate that the consumer is receiving a VIP offer, which may be a great motivator to encourage the recipient to open the email and to click through the links.  

Despite these statistics, Yes Lifecycle Marketing conducted a study that revealed that approximately half of marketing emails still do not contain even something as simple as a personalized subject line. Almost 50 percent of marketers surveyed took a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, and this may be commonly done to save time and money.

Another common reason for a lack of personalization is because marketers lack the data necessary to properly customize and personalize subject lines and messages. When you learn how to obtain and integrate personalized data about your consumers, you can benefit from potentially more effective results.

Collecting Info About Your Customers

In order to customize your subject line and email content to your specific recipients, you must learn more about who your recipients are. Several affordable options are available for gathering this data, such as collecting information when customers opt into your newsletter or email campaigns. You can also link your CRM and e-commerce platforms to your email marketing software so that you are able to analyze usage or sales data.

Some of these options can be cost-prohibitive for many smaller or more budget-minded companies, but adding a few fields to your opt-in form is rather easy and affordable to do. Everything from their gender and family size to their interests and more can be gathered through a few extra fields on the sign-up or opt-in form.

Another great idea is to ask your customers to opt into a “Special Offers Club” after they make a purchase. To sign up for this club membership, they will need to provide more detailed information about themselves and their needs. This can be used to further refine your email messages and marketing efforts.

Segmenting Your Contact List

After you have gathered a considerable amount of data from your customers or about them through their shopping activities, you will need to segment your list so that you can personalize messages. Consider the importance of segmenting your message based on geographic area, gender, age and other broader categories before refining the segmentations further through hobbies, interests and other more detailed information.

One example of how segmentation worked particularly well for a company is when Doggyloot decided to analyze the size of its customers’ dogs and segment them accordingly. By gaining insight into this info they were able to send personalized and targeted email messages to their customers. As a result, tailored emails for customers with larger dogs had a whopping 410 percent higher click-through rate than their standard non-personalized messages.

Product Recommendations and Special Promotions

One of the best ways to add a personal touch to your emails is with targeted product recommendations and special promotions. For example, if you notice that one segment of your audience is interested in skinny jeans, you can target this group for back-to-school specials or winter specials. You can also cross-promote the jeans with casual shirts, sweaters and other products that are commonly worn with jeans.

When you effectively suggest the right products, you are showing your customers that you truly know them. You are also helping them to more quickly and easily find great products to buy. This is a service to them that they may find true value in.

Real-Time Personalized Messages

While some personalized messages may be sent based on buying history or promotions that your company is offering, others may be triggered by specific actions or activities. To get the maximum results from your personalized emails, you must also determine when the most ideal times to send a touch are, and what the most ideal message for that touch is.

For example, you may send a welcome email to those who have recently opted into your campaigns. You can also send out a birthday greeting to your existing customers or email them if they enter your store.

Real-time personalized messages can be highly effective, but they do need to be triggered and executed in a very timely manner to generate ideal results. According to Experian, welcome emails sent just a few hours after the customer sign-up, for example, don’t get as much engagement as the ones sent only a couple of minutes later.

While it may be faster and seemingly easier to send out a broad email message to a large number of your contacts, you can generate much better results through personalization. Spend time strategizing about the different ways for you to gather data about your customers and how to use this data more effectively in your marketing efforts.

About the writer: Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon.

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